AC panel wiring

Dec 19, 2018
28
Bristol 29 Kate Lake Lanier
I am in the early stages of rewiring my Bristol 29. I have purchased a Sterling Battery Charger that I want to power through my AC panel (I think). My AC panel is not wired and I am not sure whether I want to keep it, replace it or skip the panel altogether. I expect to use AC only to run my charger. So... is this panel (photos below) a keeper? Assuming it is and that I am proceeding with the panel I want to be sure that I am wiring properly. If I were proceeding without asking (and I will not proceed until I am sure that I am doing this right) I would proceed as follows: AC feed neutral (white) to top left (where PO has the white jumper in place); hot feed (black) immediately below the white/neutral wire (attaching the black feed wire at top position of thin copper plate that is attached to the four breakers); and ground (green) to copper bar at left (with that attached from base of the bar to engine ground). Any feedback appreciated. Thank you.

IMG_20190729_181658466.jpg
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Feb 5, 2004
3,739
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
(Please don't take my advice to actually wire this thing, but perhaps my view will be useful in figuring it out.)

I don't think there's a green wire ground bus in this pic. I think the bus on the left is the white wire bus. That large white wire, and the bundle of small whites with the ring terminal, from the indicators, would go to that bus. Maybe the green wire gound bus was not part of the panel, but mounted on the boat somewhere near by.
 
Dec 19, 2018
28
Bristol 29 Kate Lake Lanier
Thanks Jviss - first picture below is where I assumed the green wire to engine would have been. But I see what you are saying, that perhaps the neutral (white) bus is the separate bar on the left and the large white wire was attached as the second picture below shows???
IMG_20190729_193130226.jpg
IMG_20190729_193200622.jpg
 
Oct 22, 2014
9,983
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
What ever you do you going to need to use a common color set up. You should have 3 wires coming in to the boat from the AC source on the dock.
Black = Hot
White = Neutral
Green = ground

Use the identical colors on your boat AC system.
 
Feb 5, 2004
3,739
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Thanks Jviss - first picture below is where I assumed the green wire to engine would have been. But I see what you are saying, that perhaps the neutral (white) bus is the separate bar on the left and the large white wire was attached as the second picture below shows???
View attachment 167704
View attachment 167705
I don't think you should connect white and green together on your boat, that should be done at the AC source, like the shore power service cabinet, or your generator.
 
Jan 11, 2014
4,061
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
A few comments about your plan.

First, AC boat wiring is very different from AC shore wiring. Take a look at the Musing with Maine Sail forum on SBO. And MS's website MarineHowTo.com Do it correctly and your boat is safe and the waters around you are safe.

Pick up a copy of Charlie Wing's book Boatowner's Electrical Handbook.

There are many more uses for AC on a boat than a battery charger. Quickly, charging power tools, running fans, running electrical tools, charging computers, come to mind.

The Green ground wire and the White neutral should not be tied together on the boat. The green ground connections should be physically separated from the panel and located somewhere near the panel.
 
Nov 7, 2011
2,459
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
I second what @dlochner posted.
We all like helping others on the forum. However, when it comes to AC wiring where someone can get injured or killed if it is wired wrong, it's best to point you to sources of information where you can learn how and why to wire it correctly.

I'm glad you asked before proceeding because your assumption below is incorrect.
AC feed neutral (white) to top left (where PO has the white jumper in place); hot feed (black) immediately below the white/neutral wire (attaching the black feed wire at top position of thin copper plate that is attached to the four breakers); and ground (green) to copper bar at left (with that attached from base of the bar to engine ground).
Here is a short description of a how normal Marine AC panel is wired.
The main breaker on a marine AC panel breaks both the black Hot wire and white Neutral wire of the shore power circuit.
The black load side of the main breaker would then be jumped to the power feed side of the individual breakers. The white load side of the main breaker would then go to a busbar.
The black hot wire from each individual circuit would connect to the load side of that load's breaker.
The white neutral wires from each circuit would go to the white neutral busbar.
Each circuits green ground wire and the shore power green ground wire should all be connected together at another busbar.
A marine AC panel has a Reverse Polarity indicator. If the shore power polarity and boat polarity does not match, a dangerous shock hazard may be present and the Reverse Polarity light will be lit.

As the others have said, never connect the AC ground to AC neutral on the boat. It is connected at the power source on land.

That is just some basics.

It might be best to start with a new panel with it's own wiring schematic so you know exactly how it is supposed to be wired. If you do use that panel be sure to clean every connection point to shiny brass. A corroded/dirty connection can cause enough resistance to get hot enough to start a fire.

Take a look at the Blue Sea Systems AC panels. www.bluesea.com. They make a very nice panel.
 
Jan 11, 2014
4,061
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Now that I have a little more time, let me add to my earlier comments.

Ward's basic description of the panel wiring is correct.

My AC panel is not wired and I am not sure whether I want to keep it, replace it or skip the panel altogether.
There is no reason to replace the panel, you may want to replace the breakers and some of the wiring. Bass is a good company, I have a 1993 Bass panel on my boat. The breakers are standard items and Blue Seas Series A breakers will fit. Using the old panel with new breakers will save a few bucks.

To do this job correctly and as close to compliance with ABYC, the main breaker should be replaced with an ELCI. This will prevent current leakage into the water. There are a couple of different models of ELCIs that have advantages and disadvantages.

Adding a galvanic isolator is also important. This helps to block stray dc current going through the AC ground wire. DC current flowing along the AC ground is a significant contributor to galvanic corrosion. There is a good article on this at MarineHowTo.com

Finally, ditch the old style 30 amp cord set and get a Smart Cord. This is a much safer cord. See the article on MarineHowTo.com.
 
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Dec 19, 2018
28
Bristol 29 Kate Lake Lanier
Thank you all. Also, thanks to Jesus Gonzales who sent over the pdf attached. He is with the successor to Bass or company that purchased assets, not sure, but it was good of him to send this in response to a note through the Bass website.
 

Attachments

Feb 5, 2004
3,739
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Just make sure that ground spade lug terminal that they say to connect to the green-wire ground is not electrically connected to the neutral bus.It should ground the aluminum panel only..
 
Dec 19, 2018
28
Bristol 29 Kate Lake Lanier
Dave, Ward, just read your feedback. Thank you very much - I knew I knew enough to be dangerous and needed to stop and get educated. Thanks for the basics and I will continue to read, learn and then read more before I begin to proceed. Thank you.
 
Jan 11, 2014
4,061
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Thank you all. Also, thanks to Jesus Gonzales who sent over the pdf attached. He is with the successor to Bass or company that purchased assets, not sure, but it was good of him to send this in response to a note through the Bass website.
Just be aware that since your panel engineered there have been significant changes to ABYC standards. The panel as is, is not compliant, except that it may be grandfathered in.

ust make sure that ground spade lug terminal that they say to connect to the green-wire ground is not electrically connected to the neutral bus.It should ground the aluminum panel only..
This practice is not without some controversy. Connecting the green (ground) wire to a metal panel effectively connects the white (neutral) wire to the ground because the screws holding the neutral busbar connect to the metal panel. See for example here: https://themarineinstallersrant.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-reverse-polarity-light-ac-leaking.html However, leaving the panel ungrounded may not be the best idea as it could be energized and a person touching the panel could provide a path to ground.

Where's @mainesail when we need him? Probably out sailing.
 
Feb 5, 2004
3,739
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Connecting the green (ground) wire to a metal panel effectively connects the white (neutral) wire to the ground because the screws holding the neutral busbar connect to the metal panel.
I only said that because it looks like the spade may be insulated form the neutral bus; note that the stand-off appears to be insulating. One would have to check.
 
May 20, 2016
2,795
Catalina 36 MK1 Everett, WA
Not mentioned above is a cover for the panel. A cover is Required by ABYC, if you buy a marine AC cover they can be pricy. My recommendation is get a plastic food container with snap on lid - cut to fit - hot glue in place.

Les
 
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Jan 11, 2014
4,061
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Oct 24, 2010
2,028
Hunter 30 Everett, WA
I'm NOT a fan of exposed AC power on a bus bar. Too much exposure for shocks as well as fire.
I'd wire it with short and well-crimped jumpers. The less exposed conductor, the better.
In large panels contained in boxes with wiring properly bundled, no problem. That's just not what I've seen in most boats.

Ken